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How To Develop An App Like TikTok

No need recanting the statistics, you must have figured out the math that getting as much as 0.1% of TikTok’s active users amounts to a million new users for your new TikTok-like app. If that's your desire, this post will guide you on the necessary steps to take to build an app like TikTok.

TikTok was birthed in 2016 as a Chinese video/music sharing app named Douyin by ByteDance. It became available for international downloads in 2017 after it acquired and was rechristened to the world as TikTok (Presently, Douyin still exists separately as a social media app for the Chinese populace).

TikTok's meteoric rise to stardom was not foreseen by social media giants like Facebook's Meta and Google's Alphabet. TikTok is worth over $75 billion, the 6th most downloaded social media app, way ahead of Snapchat, Telegram, Pinterest, and Twitter. How does it feel to be the CEO of the world's 6th most popular social media platform? Cool, isn't it?

How Did TikTok Get There?

YouTube had been the most widely known video creation and sharing platform until TikTok arrived on the scene with a new concept of 3-15 seconds video creation and sharing that targeted the Youthful population aged 18 to 24 years.

Users can create 3-15 seconds videos of themselves singing, dancing, acting, or making a presentation using pre-recorded or uploaded songs. This was Tiktok's strategy in penetrating the market.

Tiktok got their survey right by figuring out that Millennials and Generation Z are not patient enough to view long videos to the end, and a short burst of videos would capture their interest and attention just long enough, and Boom! Like SanFrancisco’s gold rush, TikTok has opened the race to the creation of the next video-sharing app to make history.

The TikTok Algorithm, How Does It Work?

To create an app like TikTok, you have to have a basic understanding of TikTok’s algorithm. Like a coin, Tiktok has two sides: the Viewer's and Creator's sides.

The Viewer’s side

Users who love to view content like dance, thrills, music, humor, animation, etc., are the viewers. Tiktok lets viewers follow their favorite content creators, like videos, and Share on other social media platforms. The app also lets viewers find new content by searching through harsh tags usernames to find content.

TikTok’s customized feed powered by an AI algorithm creates a 'For You' recommendation of unique content viewers are likely to interact with by analyzing factors like User interaction, video information, Viewer's device, and account settings.

The Creator’s side

You should give careful attention to details when designing the Creator's side if you want an app that will garner many users like Tiktok. Like TikTok, you should focus on embedding rich features like filters, video trimming and cropping, music selection, and many other video editing effects that make the video creation process fun and easy for the Creator.

Steps To Creating An App Like TikTok

1. Get your demographics right

TikTok got it right by knowing who its target audiences are. Most of TikTok’s users are between the age range of 16 to 24 years, and this is the basis for developing all other features in the TikTok app. So, the first step to creating an app like TikTok is to get your demographics right.

2. Have a budget enough to cover the cost of replicating an app like Tiktok

Developing an app like TikTok can cost up to $50000, so it is better to have an estimate of $30,000 to $60000 to cover the development costs, including UI/UX design.

3. Decide on a development method.

Deciding on a development method will boil down to either setting up an in-house development team or outsourcing the app development and testing process to a reputable Mobile App Development company. Hiring an in-house development team can be more expensive since you have to invest in hardware, office space, and the hiring process.

If you're outsourcing your TikTok-like app development, you wouldn’t have to worry about the development process, hiring, hardware, and the likes, which contributes to making an in-house development team more expensive, though it gives you more control of the process.

4. Focus on important features that make TikTok a favorite video-sharing app

In developing your Tiktok app, you should focus on the key features that make Tiktok a preferred video-sharing app. Some features you should consider:

  • Signing up and logging in: your app should offer multiple signups and sign-in options, including signing in with users' email addresses, mobile no, or social media accounts, and the process should be basic with no complicated signing-in procedure.

  • Settings: This is an important aspect of the app that gives users access to control. This section of your app should enable users to change passwords, customize notifications, make preferences, block, and unblock users, etc.

  • Edit Profile: This enables users to add a username, Display Picture, bio, etc., and also customize their preferences for services tailored to their needs.

  • Likes and Comments: your TikTok-like app should also include 'Like,' 'Unlike,' 'Comment,' and other features which allow users to interact with shared/uploaded video content.

  • Share: Tiktok’s ‘Share’ feature enables users to share videos on Tiktok and other social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. This feature is one reason Tiktok is leading the pack as video creation and sharing app; you should pay attention to this feature.

  • Video Editing: Like TikTok’s editing tool, your video editing feature should be light and easy to use and should be able to trim, crop, filter, perform overlap activities, and other editing functions without slowing down the app.

  • Search: Adding a search engine to your Tiktok-like app will enable users to easily search and find content and people using hashtags, genres, or usernames.

  • Audio and Video Filters and Effects: These features allow users to manipulate and alter videos and audio to create something unique. Like Tiktok, your filter and effects section should include audio/video speedup screen flipping, zoom, and other features essential for creating unique video content.

  • Music Library integration: Like Tiktok, your app should have a built-in music library where users can select a song to dance, act to, or lip-sync before recording. This feature should also enable users to add their music to the music library.

  • Duet: This is one of TikTok’s selling points. The Duet feature allows users to collaborate with artists to produce video content. Like Tiktok, you can offer your users the chance to collaborate with other artists by creating their version of the artist's video and uploading it side-by-side with the artist's video.

  • Live Streaming: Adding a Live Streaming functionality is an important feature that enables users to connect directly with live events. This is an important feature that should be a part of your app.

5. Technical Requirements

You should give careful attention to technical details while creating a Tiktok-like app to ensure that your app functions smoothly without any hitches and glitches as your user base grows. Like Tiktok, your app should have a supportive and reliable backend code that can let millions of users worldwide upload content daily without overloading or crashing the server. Some technical features you should include:

  • AI Technology: Your Tiktok-like app should incorporate powerful AI algorithms similar to Tiktok’s for customizing users’ experience. You can consider using AR core and ML Kit for AR filters.

  • Chat: Twilio will work well. It is a commonly-used cloud communication platform for adding chat functionality to apps.

  • Programming language: Java and Kotlin for Android, Swift or C for iOS

  • Hybrid application: Xamarin or Flutter technology

  • Cloud Storage: Amazon S3, Azure, or other cloud hosting service providers

  • Database: SQL, MongoDB, or Cassandra for Database integration

  • Analytics: Use Azure stream and Google mobile app analytics for real-time analytics

  • Geolocation: Use MapKit/Core location frameworks for iOS and Google Map API for Android.

Monetizing Your App

One reason you're interested in creating an app like Tiktok is to have a bite of ByteDance’s huge profit from TikTok, amounting to billions of dollars yearly. In 2020, ByteDance raked in $34.3 billion; making 1% of this huge revenue will put you on the list. Therefore, you should pay close attention to your app’s monetization features like:

  • Ads: Focus on growing your audience base to make your Tiktok-like app a viable marketplace where individuals and businesses can run ads to promote their services.

  • Paid Collaborations: Like Tiktok, you can invite collaborators to pay to access a large audience base to which they can market their products.

  • In-app purchases: This can be tricky to achieve, but you can launch a premium membership which will require users to pay to access features not available to freemium users or sell tools valuable to users.


Developing an app like Tiktok requires much planning, effort, and a fairly sizeable budget to see it to completion. For starters, it is recommended that you develop an MVP app with basic designs and important features that can help you garner a large audience base via organic traffic and paid ads.



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